Fontina (fahn-tee-nah)

I know it is still summertime but when I chose Fontina as the Cheese of the Month, my mouth started craving fondue. Fontina is a key ingredient in certain chef?s fondue recipes. Its perfume is such a memory of terrfic times over a fondue pot. When the colder weather is here?we can delve more in to this melted magic.

The history of Fontina is significant and so is the variety of flavors as it is mild and soft when young and almost robust and hard when aged. The nutty, fruity, buttery flavor profile of this cow?s milk cheese will please your palate paired with Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti R?fina Riserva DOCG. The earthy dark fruit forwardness of the wine is an exceptional paring with Fontina both young and aged.

Fontina is readily available and can come from Italy, USA, Denmark, Sweden and a French version that is quite delictable. This versitile straw colored cheese was first made in the Val d'Aosta in very northern Italy above Piedmont?at the foot of the Alps. The first historic references to Fontina occurred in the early part of the 18th century.

A crowd-pleasing appitizer is to toast some thick pieces of artisanal bread on both sides under the broiler or on the grill. Rub one side of the toasted bread with fresh garlic and place grated Fontina on this side. Place Fontina?d bread back under the broiler until it bubbles. Then serve your friends and family this ?Melted Fontina Bruschetta? and throw the Nipozzano down The Cheese Highway?. Totally rocks!

I also enjoy serving the younger Fontina as well as the aged Fontina as a conversation piece before a meal. Ask your guests to share how the young cheese tastes with the wine and then how the more aged Fontina tastes with the wine. This way, you call all learn more about the delights of eating beautiful cheese while drinking beautiful wine.